There are so many “national holidays” that I never new really existed, are you with me? Well, this is one I will jump up and down to celebrate…

Today is NATIONAL EDUCATION DAY! I want to take this as a reason to CELEBRATE educators, so be sure to send this blog link to any teachers you know because today is all about THEM!

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. – Nelson Mandela

Let me share about a few teachers and teacher groups that have done HUGE things in our family when it comes to educating. You might be surprised what I consider education. I don’t take for granted that my children can count, read, and write. Trust me, I know what a gift that is. As you will see, I’m a firm believer in what Aristotle said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”

Our Otter Creek Family

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. – John Dewey

Yes, I said family. My girls, and now sweet Baby James, attend Otter Creek Preschool/Kindergarten. This group of educators have loved my children and our whole family more than I can ever explain.

When you think National Education Day, I am sure you think about reading, writing, and arithmetic, right? Sure, they teach colors, numbers and letters; but more than that they have taught (and continue to teach our family -JT and myself included) how to be Jesus’s hands on Earth.

Not just the teachers my girls and James had (shout out to: Miss Julie, Miss Jeanie, Miss Dele, Miss Faye, Miss Jennifer, Miss Kristin, Miss Phyllis, Miss Lisa, Miss Elizabeth, Miss Laura Beth, and, of course, Miss Pat) but every teacher and teacher’s assistant at the school…. They have all taken the time to really get to know my children and JT and myself. It is because of them I have realized just how important it is in all areas of life, but especially in the world of education to prepare the child for the path, not prepare the path for the child.

Ms. Heaston

Education is improving the lives of others for leaving your community and world better than when you found it. – Marian Wright Edelman

If you have followed along for a while, you know what a difference Colleen Heaston made in lives of the Martin Family. We met Ms. Heaston when she was Kaiser’s kindergarten teacher at Oak Hill School in Nashville. Kaiser still says Ms. Heaton is one of her favorite teachers because of all of the stories she told. The next year, Mary Catherine had Ms. Heaston and Mrs. Oyermeyer as her kindergarten teachers. Both girls excelled academically and, yet again, like our years at Otter Creek, they grew spiritually and emotionally as well.

Fast forward a few years and I had the honor to spend countless hours with Ms. Heaston as she was battling cancer and eventually making her way to Heaven. I have a Masters in Education, but what she educated me in was LIFE. She taught me to believe in my children even when I doubted. She taught me to stop and tell stories… and to stop and listen.

She reminded me what real friends look like. She taught me more than I can truly put into words, and I just wish she was here today so I could hug her neck and tell her how BOTH of my girls (now in 4th and 5th grade) still shout MS. HEASTON when I ask who their favorite teacher has been so far.

Ms. Heaston

My Shining Stars

That’s what learning is. You suddenly understand something you understood all your life, but in a new way. – Doris Lessing

This group is probably not who you were expecting it to be. See, I used to be a teacher. Yes, back before Kaiser, I had 18-20 kids each year that filled my mind and my heart day in and day out. They were and will always be MY SHINING STARS.

If you think I’m about to celebrate myself as a an educator take another guess. I can’t let a National Education Day go by without acknowledging these Shining Stars that I had the privilege of educating. Little did I know how much they were actually teaching ME along the way. Empathy and patience being two of the biggest life long takeaways.

Our school has a special needs preschool attached to it so I often had the opportunity to teach students with some sort of unique challenge and different way to socialize and learn. One year in particular, our class wrapped our loving arms around one sweet student who loved her lipstick and Pokemon almost as much as I love her.

Some things took a bit longer for her to learn including social cues. However, the other children in the class didn’t even care. They all fought to sit by her and help her. I always loved teaching Kindergarten because part of my job as a teacher was to teach my students to love school.

And, a few years into my teaching career it also hit me that EMPATHY and KINDNESS was at the the top of my unofficial list of “state standards” to teach. As Mark Twain says, “Never let formal education get in the way of your learning.”  I am proud and thankful to say that if graded, just about every child and most parents I partnered with would have received an A+.

I’d love to challenge you to take today as an opportunity to say THANK YOU to someone who has educated in one way or another.

There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning. – Jiddu Krishnamurti

Maybe it was your childhood teacher, or maybe it is one of your children’s teachers or maybe it’s the lady bagging your groceries who always has a smile and helps teach you how to look at the glass half full each time you see her.

I believe a simple snail mail note that costs you just the price of a stamp can fill a persons heart big time. If you want to spend a little more, you can also send a gift or flowers to the educator(s) in your family’s life! Showering educators with gifts and prayers is one of my biggest strengths, if I do say so myself, so just let me know if you want help with ideas!

Tell me in the comments who was one of your favorite teachers growing up and why. Annddd… just for a little fun here’s a picture of me back in my preschool days.

Catherine's Classroom School Picture